Chances are, if you are an entrepreneur with protected intellectual property, there will come a time when someone infringes on your copyright.
Because, yes, people are just that bold. (I can’t tell you the amount of knock-off Yeezys I’ve seen walking around my neighborhood.)
But you know what? This is what you prepared for. When you registered that trademark, filed for that patent, or copyrighted that material, you knew you had the sauce and did what few other entrepreneurs know to do. You secured it.
So if you caught someone stealing your COPYRIGHTED material, take a deep breath. You’re already a few steps ahead of the game by having exclusive rights. Here’s what you do next.
Copyright infringement is no joke. The moment you realize someone’s stealing your copyrighted work, you need to act. As overwhelming, flattering, or confrontational as it may be, you don’t have time to sit on it. The problem will not fix itself, and often it spirals (i.e., more people start using your stuff.) This is not what you want.
Why? Because if you don’t protect your brand or creative asset, and delay putting someone on notice, your case may be insubstantial by the time you do. The federal government and third parties can use the defense of ‘dilution,’ meaning that since you were not protecting it, you were diluting it, and it no longer has the same force of value as it once had. This would also mean that Tom, Dick, and Harry are not in the wrong for making money off your hard work.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the sound of that. As a copyright owner, you have a duty to protect your work which brings me to my next point.
The same way you saved the receipts on your ex, I need you to get the receipts on these idea thieves. Document. Document. Document.
Word of mouth is not something that holds up in court. Instead, you’ll need clear documentation and examples showing instances where the other party used your copyrighted material.
Write down the date. Save the URL. Screenshot the page. Print out the IG post. Whatever it is, make sure you have proof that they stole or copied your creative works.
Once you’ve gathered all your evidence, it’s time to tell them what’s up. You’ll want to send them a certified letter/copyright notice that lets them know you’re the owner of the material, they’re engaging in a copyright violation, and you’re requesting that they stop using it.
What goes in this letter is very important as it’s the next stop in your paper trail and one of the most important documents you’ll need to show should the matter be taken to court. Because of this, I suggest that instead of writing it yourself, you hire an Intellectual Property lawyer who knows exactly what to say and how to say it so that you’re covered in case things get heated.
As the daughter of an entrepreneur who had his intellectual property stolen from him, I know how it can feel to get caught slipping. But unlike so many, you’re not in the position. You prepared for this, and because of it, you have the advantage.
Now, if these are God-fearing people, they’ll receive that letter and back down. But if they weren’t raised right, then things may have to take legal action and get things escalated. However! With your IP tools, documentation, and letter handy, I can tell you this: the ball is in your court, and federal law is on your side.
Need a lawyer who’s ready to go to bat for you and your secret sauce? Then, book a call with the Anderson Law Firm and see how our team of experts can help protect your creative assets with a 15 Minute Review Call.
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